News earlier this week that Renee Erickson plans to close her beloved Boat Street Cafe sent Seattle diners into a tizzy. Many lamented never again being able to enjoy the restaurant's bread pudding and pate they've grown to love.
But the cafe's original owner, Susan Kaplan, has owned and operated the sibling enterprise Boat Street Kitchen in a neighboring space and will continue to do so, even after Erickson ends her 17-year stint as Boat Street Cafe's owner in May. Kaplan's Boat Street Kitchen will continue serving brunch and lunch and operating as a catering company and event space. The Kitchen will also expand into the cafe's space once Erickson departs, and Kaplan is adding Sunday and Monday dinners.
Kaplan says she is not buying back Boat Street Cafe, which will cease to exist once Erickson leaves, but the Kitchen will continue to thrive-and even expand.
"We are not buying back the Boat Street Cafe," Kaplan told Eater. "However, we already serve many of the same favorites-Boat Street Pate, Amaretto Bread Pudding with Butter Rum Cream Sauce, etc." Though the cafe's Chef de Cuisine Jay Guerrero is departing to work at Erickson's upcoming Capitol Hill restaurants, "he doesn't offer many of the original old fashion Boat Street dishes. We expect to resurrect a version of these from time to time," Kaplan says.
"The change from our point of view is that we will have more space and a better kitchen, leading to many more options. For instance, we are currently limited to hosting Private Events for up to 42 guests, except on Sundays and Mondays. After we expand, we'll be able to host private events for 100 every day of the week, should we be crazy enough to want to," Kaplan says.
The Sunday and Monday night dinners Kaplan is adding will serve a casual prix fixe menu. In fact, she's offering a soft opening, reservation-only trial run on March 2. Sunday night suppers will begin down the line.
"We are definitely not going to attempt the impossible-that is, to replace the Cafe. Even if we expand dinner service to more nights, it will remain casual," Kaplan says. Other future plans include a new Chef's Table space and possible late night hours.
Kaplan hopes her customers can see through the confusion.
"Renee and I are in agreement, but our situation is confusing and the Boat Street, overall, has a very strong and positive association with Renee. Up until now, that's been helpful, but because of it, our customers probably don't realize that daytime food, events, and cooking classes, etc. will stay the same. We've been here so long that most people don't even remember that I opened the old Boat Street and they don't realize that the Bread Pudding and Pate are original and will endure."